Collaborative Research: Mass Transit: Controls on Grounding and Ungrounding at Marine Ice Sheet Outlets
This award is funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5).
This award supports a modeling study of the processes in West Antarctic grounding zones, the transition from ice resting on bedrock to ice floating on the ocean surface with an eye toward understanding the interrelated causes of rapid change in grounding line configuration and outlet flow. A combination of satellite remote sensing and numerical modeling will be used to investigate both past and ongoing patterns of change. New high-resolution surface elevation maps made from a novel combination of satellite laser altimetry and remotely observed surface shape provide a unique view of grounding zones. These data will be used to diagnose events associated with the shutdown of Kamb Ice Stream, to investigate a recent discharge event on Institute Ice Stream and to investigate ongoing change at the outlet of Whillans Ice Stream, along with other modern processes around the West Antarctic. An existing numerical model of coupled ice sheet, ice stream, and ice shelf flow will be used and improved as part of the research project. The broader impacts of the project relate to the importance of understanding the role of polar ice sheets in global sea level rise. The work will contribute to the next round of deliberations for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Improved views, interpretations, and insights into the physical processes that govern variability in ice sheet outlet streams will help correct the shortcomings of the last IPCC report that didn?t include the role of ice sheets in sea level rise. The PIs have a strong record of public outreach, involvement in the professional community, and student training.
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